A couple of years ago, walking out from a workshop, into a dark February evening, I was speaking to another workshop participant about how March was my least favorite month in the year, living here in our northern climate, as we are ready for the spring, but the weather can still be harsh and unpredictable. He quickly inserted that March was one of his favorite months – he saw it as a transition month – and looked forward to knowing it was going to be a period of transition, letting go of winter and anticipating spring. His comment really struck me, as I had never seen it as that – I had only experienced March as a month when I am ready for winter to be over, but it isn’t really over yet, and we never know when it will tip into that moment of spring and new beginnings. Now, when March arrives, I think of him and this concept of transition – that March is doing what it is supposed to be doing…transitioning…which is never quite predictable, even when we have a general sense of what we are leaving behind, and a general sense of what we are moving into.
In taking a step further and reflecting on how we experience transitions in our lives; transitions are generally rocky, or at least up and down, as we go through the necessary change process to re-emerge into a different state – children transition into adolescence; adolescents transition into adulthood, and as adults we experience many transitions in our identities, our family roles, the status of our relationships, our work identities. At the same time, in our modern western society and cultural practices, we often go without markers or roadmaps in our transitions. In our daily lives, events and information moves quickly, and where information and change occurs rapidly, there can be impatience with transitions, or an absence of understanding about the importance of the process of transitions, and we are urged to ‘just move on’. Transitions require acceptance that what we know and what we are accustomed to is moving behind us, away from us, and the new, or unknown is waiting just ahead of us, but we are unsure of what it will really be like. Transitions always involve uncertainty, and can be unsettling and confusing, as the new is not yet in form. If we can slow ourselves down, and slow down our expectations for rapid adaptation, for ourselves and for others, we are more likely to integrate, on a conscious and unconscious level, the change that needs to unfold and develop, so that we can truly move on, and move into, what lies ahead of us. We will give others and ourselves the time to do what we need to be doing – shifting and adjusting. We will also be able to integrate new coping mechanisms, new understandings, new points of view, that allow us to welcome the change and value our next new experience. And – over time, we will learn to understand and value transition periods – as doing what they are supposed to be doing for us to continue to grow, adapt, and flourish.